Middle East

Saudi troops prepare for arrival of 2 million Muslims for Hajj pilgrimage

Members of the Saudi special forces perform during a military parade in preparation for Hajj. Source: AAP

Preparations are underway for one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith.

More than two million Muslims from around the world are expected to descend on the cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage later this month.

Saudi military troops have performed in a ceremony to review forces set to be involved in the 2019 event.

Troops at the Saudi Special Forces camp near Mecca prepare for the Hajj pilgrimage.
Troops at the Saudi Special Forces camp near Mecca prepare for the Hajj pilgrimage.
AAP

It took place at the Saudi Special Forces camp near the Mecca, the holiest place in Islam.

This year's Hajj has faced heavy criticism from Muslims around the world, including some in Australia, who are boycotting what is one of the central pillars of Islam.

Critics are speaking out against the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and civilian deaths in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is the lead partner in a Coalition of forces involved. 

The United Nations has described Yemen’s humanitarian crisis as the worst in the world.

The performance is to review the forces that will take part in the event.
The performance is a way to review the forces that will take part in the event.
AAP

But Saudi Arabia has also received plenty of praise for its plans for a safe event.

Hajj Deputy Minister Dr Abdul Fattah Mashat this year launched a project to reduce temperatures in Makkah's holy sites by coating the asphalt.

It's hoped to reduce the temperature by 15-20 degrees.

Around 2.5 million Muslims are expected to attend this year's Hajj pilgrimage, and Saudi troops are running drills to prepare.
Around 2.5 million Muslims are expected to attend this year's Hajj pilgrimage, and Saudi troops are running drills to prepare.
AAP

This year, survivors and relatives of the Christchurch mosque shootings have been invited to take part in the holy pilgrimage.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is paying for all travel and accommodation costs, a bill likely to be more than $1 million.

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